Taking too good care of the MacBook Air's display

Taking too good care of the MacBook Air's display

Summary: In trying to protect our hardware investment, we may be doing the wrong thing, or so says Apple about the MacBook Air.


Most MacBook show some wear under the keyboard where the user's palms rest and a new industry in thin protectors has grown up. However, a recent Apple support note on wrist pads says that this is the wrong practice with the MacBook Air.

To enable thin design, the clearance between the display and the palm rest area is engineered to tight tolerances. Do not use palm rest covers as the added thickness may interfere with the designed resting position of the display.

As a best practice, keep the palm rest clear of any material.

So, that's an interesting point. These protectors are both decorative and very, very thin. I've seen them offered for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models.

Looking at them, it's hard to believe that they can cause a problem. But Apple warns us. Still, we can't tell if the thin covers could cause the case to open and then run the battery low. Or that the palm rests may weaken the hinge over time. Or something else. It's just bad, according to Apple. So, it might be best to take them off your MacBook Air before heading to the Genius Bar.

Of course, MacBook users have long used thin, cloth keyboard covers to protect the screen from oils and dirt transferred from the keys. For some reason, I use these cloths when I travel long distances not around town. Go figure.

The MacBook Pro's Care, Use, and Safety Information sheet says that all that's needed is to wipe the screen with damp clean, soft, lint-free cloth or paper. And to never spray liquid directly on the screen.

Certainly, people must know by now to never spray household cleaners or alcohol products on any computer screen, even plain glass screens.

For more than a decade, I have used the Klear Screen and iKlear products from Meridrew Enterprises, a local company here in the Bay Area. They offer a safe cleaning solution as well as various sizes of optical chamois, antimicrobial cloths and a terry-style cloths for the external case. I use them for all my screens and eyeglasses.

[Note: I appologize for the previous headline, which included the word "Retina." I was going to pack this story with some Retina Display items and decided to cut them. At the same time, I neglected to change the headline. David M.]

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPhone, iPad, Laptops

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  • Scratches?

    I know a lot of older laptops would suffer from keys rubbing on the screen and leaving a mark over time.

    Could be the same here. If grit gathers on the wrist pad protector or in the glue that seeps out around the edges of poorly finished wrist pad protectors, it could lead to fine scratches on the screen.
  • MacBook Air's Retina display

    There is no MacBook Air with Retina display so far...
  • But I Thought Apple Gear Just Works™

    Now it turns out it needs special kinds of maintenance that normal PC gear doesn't.
    • Nice try Astro

      No it doesn't need great care, that's the point.
  • "Heat marks" still exist on MacBooks (Air, Pro, plain).

    I've been using portable Macs since PowerBook 100 (yes I'm dating myself) and I noticed that on the Intel models have a "heat mark" in the middle of the screen where you notice a lighter mark that looks like small square with a dot on top. On the older MacBookPro (not unibody) I had an leather keyboard cover that prevented key mark on the display and also prevented the "heat mark" but doesn't totally stopped it. The leather keyboard cover doesn't work with the newer MacBook unibody models so it I have keymarks on the display also but not as prominent as the older MacBookPro.
    I wish there was a way prevent the "heat mark" and key marks on the unibody MacBooks.
  • ...and now the MacBook Pro Retina models

    We have used the ShaggyMax Screen Protector Pad on the MacBook 13" Air, 13" & 15" Retina with great results. Protects the screen and keeps the entire machine clean.